Published: Fri, April 20, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Puerto Rico Endures Country-Wide Blackout

Puerto Rico Endures Country-Wide Blackout

Angel Figueroa, president of the power workers' union, told reporters that workers were investigating why a backup breaker at a main power station in the island's southern region did not function when the outage occurred, causing the entire electrical grid to shut down to protect itself.

One board member, Ana Matosantos, voted against the plans, saying they cut too deeply and do not provide a realistic path to a turnaround for Puerto Rico's government.

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Only 334,000 of the island's more than 3 million residents had power as of 8 p.m. on Wednesday night, CNN reported, and thousands have been left in the dark for months. "This is the second power failure that has affected the people of Puerto Rico in less than two weeks".

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - New austerity measures are coming for Puerto Rico as a federal control board overseeing the USA territory's finances meets Thursday to approve several fiscal plans that will serve as the island's economic blueprint for the next five years. Substations were then unable to provide electricity to customers.

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The latest blackout prompted Gov. Ricardo Rossello to call on PREPA to cancel its contract with the subcontractor. "Especially when all these reports keep coming out that [seem to] confirm what was an unspoken truth: Response to this disaster was slower and more disinterested than any other emergency response in US history". Rosselló is pushing a bill to privatize the power system. "I have seen a lack of urgency on that, whether it is on the contracting side or the bringing materials side which is a current problem". The local utility said it detected a failure on a prominent distribution line that connects a major generating station in the south of the island to substations in the north, where most of the population lives. Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the federal power restoration efforts, said they hope to have the entire island fully energized by May. Carmen Yulin Cruz, mayor of the capital of San Juan, said the outage would not interrupt the last of a two-game series between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins, which is being played on the island. It noted that it takes 191 days to register property in Puerto Rico, compared with 12 days on the USA mainland.

On broader economic matters, the board wants Puerto Rico's government to make a Christmas bonus voluntary for private employers and allow businesses to dismiss workers without first having to prove just cause.

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On Wednesday evening, PREPA announced that more than 51,000 customers have electric service, though Puerto Rico has more than 1 million households.

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